A former steelworker from Scunthorpe whose wife died from an asbestos-related disease has won a substantial amount in compensation.

The 76-year-old man worked at a steelworks for six years in the 1970s. He was regularly exposed to asbestos in the course of his work, and would come home with his overalls covered in asbestos dust. His wife was exposed to the dust when she washed his work clothes.

She first became ill in 2005, but it was not until 2007 that she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. She died three months later at the age of 69.

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the lungs which is always, or almost always, caused by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma has a long incubation period and there are usually no symptoms until the disease is at an advanced stage, meaning that the prognosis for sufferers is poor.

A claim was brought against the man’s former employer. The steelworks settled the claim out of court for an undisclosed sum.

Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that there were 2,321 deaths from mesothelioma in 2009, 80 per cent of whom were men. Men who worked in the building industry when asbestos was still widely used are now among those most at risk of mesothelioma. Most deaths among women result from non-occupational exposure to asbestos.
For men, the worst case prediction is that annual deaths from mesothelioma will increase to a peak of about 2,100 in about the year 2016. Female deaths are likely to peak after this, but at a much lower level.
For more information on asbestos-related illnesses, see http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/asbestos.htm.

The HSE website also contains health and safety advice regarding asbestos at http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/.